7 problems a Project Manager has and how to solve them
Project Managers are like octopuses: they need 8 hands to do everything they have to do to manage their projects properly and keep everything under control. But even if they had 8 hands, there are common problems that arise during the project planning and execution phases. Problems that are difficult to avoid, but easy to solve.
Common problems on project management
- Disregard for the planning process
- Scope creep
- Exceed the budget
- Lack of communication
- Shifting deadlines
- Lack of accountability
- Decentralized information
1. DISREGARD OF THE PLANNING PROCESS
If you’re a good manager, you know that planning is one of the most important stages of any PM process. However, sometimes project managers don’t spend enough time in this stage and they try to jump immediately to the solution of the problem, rather than stepping back, planning and strategizing the most effective ways to solve the problem.
Better planning means you have more control over the project. So, never start a project before analyzing the problem, taking a look a the possible solutions, coming up with the best solution to the problem, and planning all the activities and resources needed to solve it. Always keep in mind the risks that could possibly affect the project, and come up with alternative solutions if some of these risks appear.
And remember, long-term projects require more detailed planning. Short-term, on the other hand, needs a more practical and agile approach.
2. SCOPE CREEP
It’s very important to have a clear scope of the project before starting to execute it. But even if we did a great planning process, the scope of the project can change during the execution. Scope creep is dangerous because it can make the project drift and miss deadlines.
When this situation arises, first focus on the objectives and the real need: did the objectives change? Was it because of the planning or the execution? Is it really necessary to change the scope? If the answer is yes, the sponsor of the project needs to have a meeting with everyone involved so they can all find the easiest and most practical solution.
Take the time to refocus the project, reallocate the resources, create new tasks, reschedule them, and let everyone know what happened. All the documentation needs to be updated so that everyone is working under the same terms.
3. EXCEED THE BUDGET
You planned the project, you defined the resources needed, and therefore, the final budget for the project. So if you did such a good planning, why is it that you’re exceeding the budget? This could happen for 3 reasons: there was not a good planning process, there was not a good monitoring and control process over the execution stage or your project was affected by external sources (environment, currency exchange, etc.).
When your project is exceeding the budget you need to find out what happened, and try to reallocate the resources left so you can keep on track maintaining the same expenses. Remember, a good practice when planning the project is to define a small budget for surprises, this means, having a reserve in case some contingencies, out of your control, come up.
4. LACK OF COMMUNICATION
Poor communication leads to unresolved conflicts, which could have an adverse effect on the project. A project is executed by a team of members, each one being responsible of some tasks and deadlines. If one member is not aligned and the rest of the team doesn’t find out, the project is, for sure, going to experience delays (and some bigger issues if the matter continues).
Having recurrent meetings, minutes of these meetings and primary committees, among others, is a great idea to keep everybody on board and in agreement.
5. SHIFTING DEADLINES
In a project, tasks depend on other tasks. Some of them can’t be started if a previous task is not done yet. So basically, one missed deadline could turn into 1.000 missed deadlines, and ultimately, a late delivery of the project’s final outcome. That’s why time management is crucial in a project.
When you’re experiencing delays, first analyze if the overdue task is part of the critical path. If it isn’t, check for other tasks that can be advanced, and reallocate resources so you can keep the same final date. If it is in the critical path look for new resources that can be added to the project without having a big impact in the budget.
6. LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
I once heard “When there are two responsible, there are no responsible”. This means, each task needs a sole responsible: one person that is accountable of a specific task and everything that’s involved in its completion.
A project manager needs to clearly define the responsibilities and decision-making power of each team member. And the expectations of the stakeholders.
7. DECENTRALIZED INFORMATION
It’s crucial to keep everybody updated on the project status at all times. Not having accessible, available and truthful information leads to errors and delays on the project. Multiple versions of the timeline sheet, different folders for documents, lot’s of emails can lead to decentralized information which is confusing for everyone at the team.
A solution for this problem is to have a software that helps coordinate employees across multiple locations and time zones. A Project Management software centralizes all the information of the project in one sole place where all the team members can access in real time.